Regent Street: introducing the much-hyped beacon technology
Regent Street: introducing the much-hyped beacon technology
A view from Andreas Andreou

Showrooming is an opportunity for retail brands, not a threat

This showrooming trend is well-known to retailers but instead of seeing it as a threat, they should embrace it, writes Andreas Andreou, commercial director at cashback rewards platform Quidco.

In April 2014 consumers in the UK spent £27bn in shops and online. Despite numerous media headlines stating that "the high street is dead" the British Retail Consortium has published continuous growth figures for the past few months. Spending is back and here to stay. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, April saw the biggest year on year growth in quantity bought since May 2004.

Regent Street will soon be the first shopping street in Europe to make use of the hyped beacon technology. Now that everyone knows (or should know) what beacons are, it is set to go mainstream. Regent Street has always been innovative when it comes to implementing new tech and its owners understand the need to blur online and offline.

Burberry fully embraced technology at its flagship store and is reaping the rewards. Screens that convert into mirrors and show catwalk videos when triggered by an item of clothing entice shoppers every day. But even simple things like equipping sales advisors with iPads to show matching accessories and ordering items that aren’t currently available in the shop are boosting in-store sales.

Retailers incorporate technological innovations in-store for many reasons such as improving customer experience, improving CRM as well as driving acquisition. Merging online and offline is key and retailers now understand this. Clicks and bricks can live happily ever after.

Search information

Mobile is the bridge between our physical and digital worlds and plays an ever-growing role in the multi-channel customer journey. According to the Mobile Commerce Compendium, more than half (57%) of smartphone owners have used their device to search information while out shopping. And the scary figure is that retailers lose 32% of shoppers to in-store mobile use. Rather than fight it, they need to embrace it.

This showrooming trend is well-known to retailers but instead of seeing it as a threat, they should embrace it.

When shopping, we all like to think we’re getting a great price, and more of us our using our mobile phones to find these deals. Most of us have been stood in a shop at some point in our lives comparing prices or searching for deals to then go and buy online. This showrooming trend is well-known to retailers but instead of seeing it as a threat, they should embrace it. With beacon technology usage steadily approaching and full of exciting opportunities, it could be a turning point for bricks and mortar.

Beacon technology embraces the connected shopper and there is a huge opportunity for the likes of Esprit, Apple, Timberland, Levi’s and Burberry to make their mark and create a perfectly rounded online and offline experience. The technology doesn’t just enable retailers to send push notifications enticing people walking past their shop and in-store with offers and deals. The tech enhances the shopping experience by providing in-store navigation, payment solutions and the possibility to search for additional information. It also delivers a vast amount of data at the retailer’s fingertips.

Personalised messages

The possibilities are limitless. Similar to what Quidco offers, retailers can now, for example, harness data they hold on their online customers and combine it with offline data in order to tailor personalised messages, deals and promotions to the individual consumer. The consumer benefits from relevant deals and information and the retailer increases footfall and sales. It turns anonymous customers into registered customers. And by tracking the customers’ in-store, brands can now offer bespoke content based on the specific location of the shopper.

PayPal is also doing great things in this space and adopting beacon technology with their app; linking payments with personalised offers. By developing their in-store technology and partnering with clever third party platforms, retailers can win the fight against showrooming. 

I cannot wait to see what retailers and restaurants on Regent Street come up with when trying to engage with passers-by and in-store customers. The ones that create an extension to in-store shopping and enhance the experience with creative, interactive and engaging digital content coupled with added value for the shopper by offering deals and promotions will no doubt succeed.

Brands need to fully embrace new and innovative tech to stand out from the crowd and, with the limitless possibilities, I’m sure some of the clever ones will deliver an enhanced customer experience.